Magnet Exploration

I recently signed Gray up to take a class at The DoSeum – our local children’s museum that I have written about before.  The class is called “Little Makers” and it’s basically a science and engineering class for toddlers 18-36 months old.  Yesterday was our first class.  Not only did Gray have a blast, I came away very inspired…
magnets at the dose

His teacher, Ms Cheryl, had all sorts of magnets for the kids to explore with.  The invitation to play was simply a box of random items and a couple of magnet wands.  Gray immediately dug in and was ready to explore!  She had extension activities for those who were interested in sorting their magnetic vs non-magnetic items, and blank paper “journals” for any who wanted to draw/write their thoughts.  Gray enjoyed sorting his magnetic/non-magnetic items, and eagerly sat in my lap to sort them!  He enjoyed playing with magnets on the classroom divider wall, and of course he loved the story – Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is one of our family favorites!  (Aff link, thank you!)  Then after class he enjoyed going to the Kaleidoscope play area and spending more time with the MagnaTiles there.  (Aff link, thank you!)  All of the magnet play inspired me, and we ended up purchasing our own set of  MagnaTiles to take home with us.

While he napped, here’s what I set up for when we got home from picking up Sis from Mother’s Day Out:

magnets at home The invitation to play was simple – a box full of random items both magnetic and non-magnetic, and a bunch of MagnaTiles.  When we got home, Becca immediately hopped up into her chair and started playing.  Without me even showing her or telling her what to do, she started testing items to see if they are magnetic.  Today, I’ll give her the same activity with a sheet of paper similar to what Gray had for sorting at the DoSeum and let her sort her items based on whether they are magnetic or not.  Gray also immediately dove in and really enjoyed the activity again at home in our little variation.

reality check

Because I’m all about being honest with you and telling you what works and what doesn’t work, this is NOT an activity for your toddler to do unsupervised.  I thought I’d take advantage of them being so engaged, and I’d do the dishes… well, then I looked over and he had something in his mouth.  Thankfully, it was just a pompom – not a magnetic item, but because he’s cutting a couple of new teeth right now, I can’t give him the box unsupervised.  This is an activity to do when I’m sitting right with him.  To buy myself some more time, I simply removed the box from his reach and let him play with the MagnaTiles.  He LOVES building with the MagnaTiles and that easily occupied him for the rest of the time I needed him to be occupied until I could join him at the table and let him have the box back with close supervision.

MAKING THE BOX
Here are some ideas of what you could put in your box.  I used the following items that I had laying around randomly here:
-Colored Rice (non)
-Mixed beans and corn from an old fall sensory bin (non)
-Paperclips (magnetic)
-Paper brads (magnetic)
-Refrigerator magnets (magnetic)
-Feathers (non)
-Pipe cleaners, cut into pieces (magnetic)
-Jingle bells (magnetic)
-PomPoms (non)
-Play plastic coins (non)
-Foam blocks (non)
-Fruit pouch lids (non)
-Plastic stackers (non)

Here are some other fun magnet activity sets that we have and enjoy (Aff links, thank you!):
MindWare Imagination Patterns (Becca got this for Christmas and loves it!  Gray has not used these… but easily could – they are large enough to be toddler safe, she’s just very possessive of them.) UPDATE: Gray loves playing with this set!  There are a couple of small circles that I take out of the set when he plays with it.
Magz51 New Interlocking Toy Building Set (NOT toddler safe)
Magnetic Spinning Gears (Both kids LOVE this set!)
Lauri – Fun with Magnets (I have this set on order and can’t wait for it to arrive!)

more fun with magnets
update 4/7/16: He loves playing with the Imagination Patterns AND the MagnaTiles together because the Imagination Patterns board allows the MagnaTiles to stand upright for vertical fun!

Children’s books about magnets (Aff links, thank you!):
What Makes a Magnet?
What Magnets Can Do
Magnets: Pulling Together Pushing Apart

What fun magnetic activities have you done?  The kids are totally enthralled and I’m looking forward to finding more fun magnet activities! I also think Becca would enjoy going on a magnetic hunt to test different household objects to see which are magnetic and non-magnetic… we may do that today!

 

Fun in the Sun

Its 82F right now.  And still getting hotter.  There’s a good breeze, but it definitely feels like summer.  On the 8th of March.  Crazy.  So what to do with two little hooligans who are bored inside?  Get out the water hose!  As I’m typing this, I’m having to remind Becca not to get my phone wet… And I keep having to move!  Lol.  We are all three soaking.  And the giggles are just so contagious that I had to stop and write NOW.  Because this is one of those posts you don’t take time for later.  And I want you in the moment with me.

I’m standing here and Becca keeps randomly blasting my legs with ice cold water, making me jump… And both kids laugh like crazy.  I’m backing away, trying not to trip on the hose.  This the most fun ever.  “MOMMY!  Stop!  I’m gonna water you!  But don’t worry, not your phone!  Are you videoing me??”  Oh these kids.  I love them so much.  I needed this so badly.  So. Dang. Much. Fun.

Later…
What a fun time!  I have to focus on those moments when I look back later… Like right now… While they fight over toys in the bathtub.  Apparently if I want them to come together I just have to give them a waterhose and start running!  Life with two isn’t always a bed of roses, but it does have it’s up-sides every now and then!  And these giggles?  Are so amazing.

Christmas Activities

I debated about how to do this post – if I should put everything separate so it doesn’t seem overwhelming, or just put it all together.  I decided it’s easier to reference later if it’s all together… and honestly, if I wait on some things until later, you have less time to do them with your kids!  So… get ready.  I’m about to bombard you with a bunch of fun ideas – the first several will be great for even your little toddlers, and the rest will be geared toward your older kiddos.

Many of these activities I have stored in little plastic bags and all inside a storage box (in fact, the same box that once held our Apple Activities).  But a couple of them are ready at the window any time one of the kids wants them.  The great thing about the activities in the box is that while Becca is working on her activities, she can select something from the box for Gray to do, to appease his desire to do what she is doing.  She can also interact with him on his activities, and I love watching the tender moments they share (which usually come right before a snatch-grab-cry-scream fest HA!) together when working on a project.  If you have a toddler and an older child, you know how hard it is to find something they can both do either together, or to keep the little one occupied while the older one does something different.  This box of activities seems to be my best effort yet in this department.. and is about 80% effective!   So, here we go!  Let me know if you try any of these with your kids!  I’d love to see you share pictures on my Facebook page, as well!

sticky window

The Christmas Tree Sticky Window is super simple to make – just draw a Christmas tree onto a piece of clear contact paper, and then attach it to your window with tape – so that the sticky side is out.   Then, cut various shapes out of felt or other fabric (so that they won’t adhere permanently) and let your kids decorate the tree over and over again!  While Becca enjoyed this activity at first, this is definitely a Grayson favorite.  He LOVES standing at the window and moving the shapes around.  Of course, he also loves to carry the shapes all over the house and leave them random places…

shape identification

This felt Christmas tree was a busy bag I made a few years ago at a MOPS meeting – simply by cutting shapes from various colors of felt.  It’s a great activity for the kids to do together – Becca loves to tell Gray the names of the shapes and their colors.  She likes to make patterns of ornaments – he likes to throw them in the air and watch them rain down around him.  Either way, they are happily occupied.

writing coloring

In an effort to provide activity for Gray AND Becca in the same box, I have a couple of Christmas coloring books and some blank paper that either of them can enjoy, but I also have magnetic Christmas words that Becca can spell, and then write in her bare book (I found a bunch of them in the Target dollar section at one point this summer!).  She also has two rhyming word wheels that she can practice with and write the rhyming words in her book.  Gray loves that he’s “writing” with crayons while Sis is writing too.  He feels so big and important, and it shows!  We just have to watch that he doesn’t run around with a crayon sticking out of his mouth… he has that tendency.

geo shapes

We have some really fun building materials – you could use anything you have laying around – Legos, Duplos (for your little hands), building blocks, marble runs, whatever you  have.  Challenge your little ones to build a Christmas tree out of the supplies provided!!  Looking for more STEAM Engineering ideas?  Click Here!

reading retelling

We have a play Peanuts nativity set (affiliate link – thank you!) available on our low window sill for Becca to retell the Christmas story anytime she’d like.  Gray also enjoys playing with the characters, and he loves to sit and listen to her act out the story.  I also provided in her Christmas activity box Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends (affiliate links – thank you!) books – along with a tiny stuffed ginger baby that she can read the books to, and then use to re-inact the stories.

christmas treeNot an activity for Brother, Becca LOVES making Christmas trees of various designs using green popsicle sticks, red buttons, white pom poms, and one gold one for the star on top.  She has come up with some of the coolest, and also weirdest designs.  Some look like trees, and some, well… don’t.  But she is having a blast, it’s a great sensory activity for her that really allows her imagination and creativity to go wild.

fine motor

Becca struggles with some simple things like getting dressed, and in order to strengthen her hands and fingers to work on those little things like putting on socks and shoes, I try to find lots of fine motor skill practice activities for her.  I had some green colored pasta leftover from one of our habitat boxes, and also have some little Christmas jewelry pieces that I put in some little containers and let her string onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets and necklaces.  She LOVES it, and it’s great practice.  I even made an extension to this that stays in her room for holiday play – mini ball ornaments that she can string onto pipe cleaners.  It’s fabulous for her, and I’ve seen just in the past couple of weeks her fine motor skills making some great improvements!

star math

I programmed several index cards with a variety of patterns and addition/subtraction/multiplication story problems, and had her use these little star cards to solve them.  She even said “I wish all math was fun like this!”  So we’ve started using the star cards for other kinds of math too.  You could use anything you have around the house – scraps of paper, fabric, cut pipe cleaners, Legos, Duplos, crayons, etc.  Hands down, using manipulatives makes math more fun!  (And Mr. Gingerbaby even got involved in the math, too!)

more math

Becca has always struggled with seeing the importance behind having any numbers beyond 20.  She can count to 100 now with ease, but just really doesn’t see the point.  But she does love a good challenge, so I cut some 100s grids into lots of funny pieces, and she really enjoys putting them together.  I also took her sensory box from last Christmas and stepped it up a notch.  She loves playing with it with her balance.  She has discovered that the shiny and matte ornaments do not weigh the same as each other.  She has weighed the cookie cutters that are also in the box, and loves to scoop and pour the rice/split peas into and out of the balance.  She gets so excited when she makes them equal, and loves trying new combinations to see how much she needs to equalize if one side has more ornaments, etc.  I love seeing her creativity come out in this simple hands-on sensory activity, and I love to see her enjoying math.  She’s measuring with her measuring cup each time, and getting better at recognizing the values, etc.  Seeing her enjoy math is so good for me – I’m not a fan of math at all… so I try hard to make it really enjoyable for her so that she will love it.

What Christmas activities do you have going on in your house?  We are also doing daily advent activities, reading lots of Christmas books, and watching lots of special Christmas shows.  I’m hoping we can get out to look at Christmas lights sometime soon as well.  It can be such a crazy time of the year, but when we remember to stop and focus on the Reason for the season, it is all worth while.

May God richly bless you and yours this Christmas!  I look forward to hearing from you on Facebook, and I look forward to starting the new year with some new resolutions and some new post ideas!!  Do you have something you’d like to see me post here on my blog?  Send me an email!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

TP Roll Painting

art

Toilet Paper Roll Painting ideas are all over the internet.  They’re honestly a dime a dozen.  This is NOT a new idea, by any means.  I’m sure every mom out there who has been collecting TP rolls has thought of this one.  But what makes it fun and special is that this was the first time we did it… and the first time that I let Grayson truly paint.  To say he had a blast is an understatement. Honestly, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.  Have you tried this with your kids?  It’s SO fun.  You gotta give it a whirl.

tprollgray

tproll becca

Calendar Art… It’s Time!!

art

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know about the Christmas gift of the century that Becca and I created last year for her Pappy, PawPaw, and Daddy.  I nearly killed myself trying to get it all done in time.  So I decided to blog about it starting back in January, and start working on the art work – and give you ideas so that you could create your own calendars with your kids.  If you didn’t see the original post, it’s here.

Maybe you’ve been working on your amazing artwork all year right along with us, or maybe you’re just now getting started.  The beautiful thing is, it’s still August.  YOU HAVE TIME.  If you haven’t started yet, TODAY is the day!  It’s TIME!!  If you’ve got your artwork ready, and you’re just waiting for the calendar printout I promised, it’s HERE!  Click HERE to download your FREE 2016 printable calendar ready to print out and stick in those calendars.  free calendar 2016

In a couple of weeks I’ll sit down and get to the nitty gritty of actually how I put them together.  Because you’ll want to know the lessons I learned from my mistakes, I’m sure. 🙂

My challenge for myself this year has been that I did a bunch of art with Becca early in the year, and I just flat out haven’t been brave with Grayson really yet.  So in the next few weeks, I’m going to bring out some of our favorite art painting techniques and let Grayson try them!  So for those of you with Baby Bees, you’re about to see this mama get really brave… It’s Toddler Painting Time in the Hinnant House!  My goal is to have enough artwork to make every third month a collage of Grayson’s art.  Next year we’ll start in January with both of them and do every other month in the calendar as work from each child.  This year Becca will be a lot more involved in making the collages, too.  I’m really excited about starting on them – I’ve gotten a few of them started with her over the course of time, but haven’t fully finished any of them.  This is such a fun project, and I’m excited about planning an art time into our “school” day each day – for both kids.

Here are links to some of our favorite “Fun with Art” ideas that we’ll be revisiting in the next few weeks with Grayson:
Painting With Cars
Kitchen Brush Flowers
An Invitation to Scrape

Plus check back here next Friday for a super fun idea for Toddler Bees AND Big Butterflies that uses those millions of toilet paper rolls you throw away every week!!